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Best Air Handlers of 2022: A Comprehensive Review and Buying Guide

CEO Khai Intela
Image Source: saigonintela.vn Are you facing difficulties in understanding when to repair or replace components of your heating and cooling system? It can be confusing, considering the numerous parts involved. However, knowing the significance of...

Best Air Handlers of 2022: Reviews and Buying Guide Image Source: saigonintela.vn

Are you facing difficulties in understanding when to repair or replace components of your heating and cooling system? It can be confusing, considering the numerous parts involved. However, knowing the significance of essential components like the air handler unit will empower you to ask the right questions during HVAC troubleshooting.

In this article, we will explore the top air handler units available in the market. We'll provide you with valuable insights on sizing, pricing, and how these units interact with the rest of your HVAC system. Whether you prioritize value, energy efficiency, or a combination of both, our air handler reviews will guide you towards making an informed decision.

What Is an AC Air Handler?

An AC air handler is a critical component of your heating and cooling system responsible for circulating indoor air. Resembling a metal cabinet, it houses essential parts of your HVAC system, including the blower, evaporator coil, air filter, and electric controls. The air handler works in conjunction with other components, such as the condenser or heat pump, to ensure that the temperature of the air matches your thermostat setting. It is connected to supply and return ventilation ducts throughout your home, ensuring a balanced airflow.

When purchasing an air handler, it is advisable to consult a licensed HVAC technician associated with the brand you choose. They can provide valuable insights and help you make the best investment for your home.

Best Air Handler Brands

Air handler brands are typically classified into three categories: superior, standard, and value brands. The brand you select will significantly impact the price you pay for an air handler.

Superior or premium brands, such as Carrier, Lennox, and Trane, are renowned for their durability and long lifespan, typically lasting between 18 to 25 years with regular maintenance.

Standard air handler brands, like Amana, Rheem, and Heil, offer mid-tier pricing and a reasonably long lifespan of around 15 years, with proper upkeep potentially extending their durability.

Value brand air handlers, including Coleman, Payne, and Goodman, provide good value for the investment. These units generally last between 12 to 14 years.

Remember, each brand manufactures multiple air handlers, varying in price and efficiency. Consulting an experienced HVAC technician will help you choose the best air handler model for your specific requirements.

Air Handler Reviews

After thorough consideration of customer feedback, cost, energy efficiency, and durability, we have ranked the best air handler brands below:

  1. Carrier
  2. Lennox
  3. Trane

These industry-leading HVAC brands have consistently delivered exceptional performance and customer satisfaction. However, it is crucial to evaluate your unique needs when selecting the best air handler for your home.

Parts of an Air Handler

Understanding the different components of an air handler will help you diagnose common HVAC problems and ensure optimal performance.

Evaporator Coil

The evaporator coil, also known as the indoor coil, cools or heats the air pulled in through the return duct. During the warm months, the coil absorbs heat from the air, resulting in a cooling effect. In colder months, it heats the air before delivering it into your home. The evaporator coil is a vital part of the air conditioning process.

Blower Motor

The blower motor is responsible for circulating cool or warm air throughout the ductwork in your home, delivering comfortable temperatures to each room. There are three types of blower motors: single-speed, dual-speed, and variable-speed.

  • Single-speed: The blower runs at 100% capacity or remains off, regardless of the temperature difference between the indoor and outdoor air.
  • Dual-speed: The blower has low and high operational settings. It typically operates at the lower setting to maintain the desired temperature. When necessary, it switches to the higher setting to meet increased cooling or heating demands.
  • Variable-speed: The blower can adjust its speed to meet the energy requirements needed to maintain the desired temperature. Variable-speed blowers are the most energy-efficient option.

A variable-speed motor can use 25% less energy while continuously running at half the speed of a single-speed motor, providing the same level of air circulation.


The filter within the air handler captures various pollutants present in indoor air, such as mold spores, pet dander, and pollen. The filter's effectiveness depends on its Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating. Higher MERV ratings indicate better filtration capabilities.

Optional air quality and comfort elements, such as whole-house dehumidifiers or electric heat strips, can be integrated into the air handler to enhance performance.

Differences Between Air Handler and Air Conditioner

It is essential to distinguish between an air handler and an air conditioner. While the air handler circulates indoor air before and after conditioning, the air conditioner's primary function is to remove heat from the home. Both components work together in an HVAC system, with the air handler located indoors (typically in the attic or basement) and the air conditioner as the outdoor unit. These units are connected through refrigerant lines, ensuring the efficient operation of the entire HVAC system.

Air Handler Prices

The cost of a new air handler typically ranges between $2,400 and $3,000, including the purchase and professional installation by an HVAC technician. Actual installation costs may vary based on location and the chosen technician.

Factors such as blower motor capabilities, quality, size, and communication type influence air handler prices. For instance, a single-speed motor is less expensive upfront but less energy-efficient compared to a variable-speed motor.

Air Handler Sizes

Choosing the correct air handler size is crucial for optimal performance. The square footage of your home largely determines the size you require. An air handler that is too large or too small for your home can lead to inefficiency and discomfort.

Consulting an experienced HVAC technician will ensure you select the right-size air handler for your home. They can match it to the size of your outdoor condenser unit to maintain a balanced and efficient HVAC system.

Air Handler Efficiency

The efficiency of an air handler depends on the type of blower motor it utilizes. Each motor type offers unique advantages:

Single-Speed Air Handler

Single-speed air handlers are the most affordable option initially. However, they provide the least energy savings. These units have a simple on-off mechanism, running at maximum capacity whenever the thermostat demands heating or cooling. Once the desired temperature is reached, the blower shuts off completely. Single-speed motors are not as energy-efficient as other types.

Dual-Speed Air Handler

Dual-speed air handlers strike a balance between efficiency and comfort. They offer two operational speeds, functioning at a lower setting (around 60% power) in most cases. When required, they can switch to full capacity to meet increased cooling or heating demands. Dual-speed motors provide energy savings and are a popular choice among homeowners.

Variable-Speed Air Handler

Variable-speed air handlers are ideal for those prioritizing energy efficiency. These units provide multiple power settings, automatically adjusting their performance to maintain the desired temperature while minimizing energy consumption. Variable-speed motors are the most energy-efficient option, leading to significant monthly energy savings. Although they come with a higher upfront cost, the long-term benefits outweigh the initial investment.

Communicating Air Handlers and Air Conditioners

When purchasing an air handler, ensure it matches your system's communication type. Some HVAC systems have specific branded communication types, and only corresponding air handlers will function correctly. Examples include Carrier Infinity System, Goodman ComfortNET, Lennox iComfort, Rheem Comfort Control System, and Trane ComfortLink Technology.

Choosing an air handler that aligns with your system's communication type may cost slightly more than a conventional unit, with prices ranging from $300 to $500 higher. It is also important to consult your HVAC technician to determine if a communicating thermostat is necessary for seamless system operation.

Best Air Handler Unit

The best air handler for your home depends on various factors, including your specific needs, climate, and budget. While we've highlighted three top picks from industry-leading HVAC brands, it's important to consider your family's requirements and preferences. When consulting an HVAC specialist, clearly communicate your priorities, such as energy efficiency, quiet operation, value, or a combination of factors. By asking the right questions, you can find an HVAC dealer that aligns with your needs.

FAQs on Air Handlers

Q: How does an air handler work? A: An AC air handler uses a blower fan to distribute conditioned air through the ductwork, ensuring comfortable temperatures in different areas of your home. It serves as the indoor component of a central air conditioning or heat pump system.

Q: What does an air handler look like? A: An air handler typically appears as a large, rectangular metal box. It is commonly found in the garage, attic, or utility room.

Q: What is the best air handler? A: Determining the best air handler depends on individual homeowner preferences. Renowned brands like Lennox, Rheem, and Trane offer high-quality air handlers that consistently satisfy customer expectations.

With the information provided in this comprehensive buying guide, you can confidently choose the best air handler for your home. Remember to consult an experienced HVAC technician for personalized recommendations and installation assistance. Enjoy comfortable temperatures and enhanced indoor air quality with the perfect air handler unit for your needs.